The New Zealand Chrysler team has been buoyed by the unveiling of a new 5-year plan to steer the company and its brands into the future.
A total of 21 new models are to be introduced by Chrysler before 2014, with the aim of doubling sales worldwide, returning the company to profitability and repaying the US Government loans.
Chrysler is partnering with its new 20% owner Fiat Auto to make use of the Italian company’s engine and product technology to achieve the ambitious turn-around and the plan has received the thumbs-up from the Chrysler distributor and dealer network in New Zealand.
“We were surprised and delighted by the scope of changes that are going to take place and there is a lot of confidence among our team about where Chrysler is going in the future,” says Todd Groves, Divisional Manager with Chrysler importer Sime Darby Automobiles Limited.
The Chrysler 5-year plan, which was revealed at a marathon 8-hour presentation to industry and media in Detroit, has been put together in just three months under Sergio Marchionne, who led Fiat through a similar restructuring three years ago.
The plan calls for almost $32billion to be invested in a complete renewal of every model in the Chrysler portfolio between now and the end of 2013. It will see Jeep emerge as the largest and most important brand in the Chrysler Group stable, the Dodge brand taking on a performance image and Chrysler paired with the upmarket Lancia brand in Europe.
Fiat will help Chrysler to fast-track development by providing vehicle platforms for a new range of medium and small size vehicles that will be launched with Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge nameplates. Among them are a new small Jeep under the Patriot size and new small cars for both Chrysler and Dodge.
Fiat will also provide technology for a new range of high performance four cylinder engines that are expected to deliver greater fuel economy and reduced emissions. Among the technology that will be utilised is the Multiair system that transforms the performance of a small capacity engine to rival much larger engines, thus saving weight and fuel. Advanced transmissions will also be part of the new development package.
Chrysler is also working on improving the current stable of models that will see the company through the immediate years. These include the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot, both of which have just arrived in New Zealand with completely revised passenger cabins, featuring higher quality materials and detailed finishing.
Two totally new large Jeep and Chrysler models are expected to be introduced next year, but it will be 2012 before the all-new small and medium sized models arrive.
Chrysler says that the changes unveiled in the 5-year plan will see the company increase its sales from 1.3 million worldwide in 2009 to 2.8 million by the end of 2013. Jeep will almost double in sales to more than 800,000 per year, with Chrysler and Dodge each contributing 600,000 in sales. The Ram truck is being spun off into a brand on its own and will have a number of other models included, such as small and large vans.
Financially Chrysler is expected to break even in 2010 and progress to an operating profit of US$5 billion by 2014
Mr Groves says the New Zealand market may be small but it will be making an important contribution to the growing health of Chrysler in the future and plans are already being made to increase sales in this market in 2010 and beyond.